Listening to workers and business owners across Wisconsin, Russ has heard how important it is that we invest in our infrastructure and our workforce. That’s why he’s released the Badger Innovation Plan, with ideas to improve our roads and bridges, to help workers get new skills and to help our small businesses get new customers and new capital.
Rebuilding our Crumbling Infrastructure
We need a strong partnership between states and the federal government to complete our most important infrastructure projects. Doing so will create good-paying jobs and enhance our economy by allowing goods produced by Wisconsin businesses to travel more efficiently.
High-Speed Broadband for All
In addition to building our traditional infrastructure, like roads and bridges, we must invest in our digital infrastructure to make sure that every Wisconsinite has reliable Internet access. And to assure that Wisconsin small businesses can grow and compete with big corporations, we need to make sure that Congress doesn’t pass special-interest legislation that lets companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Charter decide which content gets fast Internet service and under what conditions.
High-speed broadband should be treated as the utility that it is, and Wisconsinites living in rural areas should be able to access the same quality of broadband as Wisconsinites living in bigger cities.
Training Our Workforce
As Russ travels across Wisconsin’s 72 counties, he’s heard a similar theme from employers across the state: they want to grow their businesses, but cannot find enough skilled employees to do so.
That’s why we need new ways for workers to develop skills. We can do this with common sense action, like extending federal student loan eligibility to career and technical education programs that do not currently qualify. And we should align our workforce development programs with industry needs so that our federal dollars are spent wisely.
Growing Good-Paying Jobs
Wisconsin should export its products, not its jobs. Many small and medium-size businesses in Wisconsin are on the cutting edge of their industries, producing products and delivering services that drive local economies. These businesses should have the information and resources they need to compete internationally, while the good-paying jobs in Wisconsin should not go overseas solely for the benefit of giant multinational corporations.
We must support projects like the State Trade and Export Promotion Program, which helps small and medium-sized businesses compete internationally. And he supports our critical Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, which provide crucial support to middle-class and working families in Wisconsin who are affected by unfair trade.
Spurring Innovation in Wisconsin Businesses and Supporting Disadvantaged Entrepreneurs
In communities all across Wisconsin, business owners are creating new and innovative ways to grow our economy.
That’s why we must invest in projects like the Small Business Innovation Research Program, which encourages small businesses to conduct research and development. While public finance programs certainly do not replace private capital, they can play a crucial role in reducing the hurdles for Wisconsin companies to create new jobs, expand, and succeed.
We must also support programs like the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, compete in the marketplace.
The state, government, and businesses have an important partnership in funding foundational scientific and technical research, much of which industry has used to propel innovation and new business creation. This is especially true in Wisconsin, where the University of Wisconsin System’s research and technology transfer is an economic engine that the state’s economy relies upon.
Finally, we can make common sense changes to help Wisconsin entrepreneurs succeed. For example, new businesses should be exempt from filing their taxes quarterly in the first year, when cash flow can be erratic and business owners face all the other challenges of launching a new venture. Instead, first-year businesses should simply file annually.